Roger Bernard, Farm Journal Policy & Washington Editor
China has agreed to drop its restrictions on imports of U.S. pork, according to press reports and a statement issued by U.S. officials currently in China.
U.S. Trade Rep. Ron Kirk and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack released a statement on the matter, saying China intends to re-open the Chinese market to United States pork and live swine, consistent with science-based international standards. The announcement was made at the conclusion of meetings with Chinese officials at the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).
"Two-way trade of agricultural, fish, and forest products between the US and China has grown in recent years to over $21 billion per year, opening increasingly important connections that can benefit farmers, ranchers and consumers in both countries," said Vilsack. "China's intent to remove its H1N1-related ban on US pork marks an important step forward in cooperation between the countries on agriculture issues."
"I look forward to China resuming imports of US pork products and live swine," said Kirk. "Based on our discussions, we expect China to base its opening on science and internationally agreed standards."
In 2008, China was the U.S. pork industry's fastest growing market, accounting for $560 million in U.S. exports. China's May 2009 A/H1N1 restrictions have stopped U.S. pork exports to China.
In discussions with Vice Premier Wang Qishan and Agriculture Minister Sun Zhengcai, Vilsack stressed the need for China to remove all restrictions on trade in pork products related to the H1N1 virus, given clear guidance from international bodies like the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), World Health Organization (WHO), and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), that there is no risk to humans from consuming properly prepared pork and pork products..
Earlier this morning, press reports out of China revealed the shift in China's stance. "Since this is a new disease, it takes time to understand it," according to China's Sun. "This decision was based on scientific analysis and assessment. It is my hope the U.S. side will follow the Chinese requirements to safely resume export of pork products to China," Sun said. He also called on the U.S. to move quickly to certify Chinese cooked poultry processors for sale in the U.S. market